Have you ever felt so passionate about something that it’s all you can think about and you just want to immerse yourself in it every chance you get? That’s how I feel about silversmithing or crafting sterling silver jewelry that is meant to last a lifetime. It is truly my highest excitement and I’m obsessed to put it lightly.
My silversmithing journey began when I moved back to San Diego from Cincinnati, Ohio in 2016. Thanks to some amazing friends in Cincy, I got back into making jewelry and instantly became drawn to crystals/gemstones. That’s also when I started meditating, making malas, and studying the healing properties of crystals (Read more about my story here.). I love gemstones so much that I began collecting raw specimens (#crystalhoarder), learned how to perform crystal healing & chakra balancing, and taught courses on how to use them to bring joy and harmony into our daily lives. In fact, I love gemstones so much that I wanted to have them near me all the time. If you’re anything like me then you probably put a few in your bra! But having them wiggle around and possibly fall out is a total no no. Am I right? Then it dawned on me, why not merge my favorite things - gemstones and jewelry making? Duh! It was a no brainer!
I picked up my first jeweler’s torch at a local community college and never turned back. I’ve been taking jewelry making classes ever since and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. It’s my little escape or “me time” now that I’m a mama of 2 fabulous girls. I have to admit that the idea of using intense heat and fire to shape and form metal into beautiful objects was frightening at first. But my passion and excitement for creating something strong and sturdy out of metal to honor gorgeous gemstones pushed me to overcome the fear. I learned how to solder or fuse pieces of metal together permanently using the torch to make bracelets, pendants, earrings, chains, and even jewelry boxes. I also learned how to manipulate and form metal into almost any shape. My teacher, Anne Wolf, always said, “If you can make it in paper you can make it in metal.” In fact, I always start every new design by making prototypes in paper then in copper or brass to figure out what works and what doesn’t to avoid making mistakes in pricier silver, which is a precious metal.
What’s important to me is high quality craftsmanship, eco-friendliness, and unique designs that are wearable day or night because I want you to feel confident that your investment will withstand the test of time. I use only recycled sterling silver to help preserve our planet and completely natural gemstones. I love sharing the stories of how the stones were selected, cut, and polished because it adds so much more depth and connection to the piece. It’s not just a piece of jewelry - it’s a piece of love and healing from my heart to yours. I select only the highest quality gemstones with the brightest colors so you know you’re getting the best when you purchase from me.
My design process always starts with an idea or inspiration that usually just comes to me randomly or even in my dreams. Yes, I even dream about jewelry! The main theme that excites me is outer space, celestial bodies, and extraterrestrials (ET). Ever since I was a kid I have always loved science, space exploration, and the idea of alien civilizations. The challenge is incorporating gemstones into designs that connect us with the cosmos in a way that is beautiful, funky, and stylish. You can definitely expect to see lots of sci-fi inspired designs from me including, of course, UFOs.
So far, I’ve made several one-of-a-kind pieces from gemstones that I’ve been collecting over the years and you can check them out here. There are several different types of stones available ranging from variscite from Utah, chrysocola from California, rainbow moonstone from Madagascar, and larimar from the Dominican Republic. Each piece is as unique as the gemstones they’re made from so no two are alike.
I’m constantly evolving as a person, a designer, and a small business owner and I’m in a much different place than when I started The Mala Babe. Silversmithing is my true passion and excitement and I’m thrilled to share that I will now be using my own name, Yvonne Dao, for my brand. I’ll continue to provide a few select mala and bracelet designs with a focus on my growing catalog of handcrafted sterling silver jewelry. This has been a longtime dream of mine and I can’t thank you enough for supporting me on this journey and following along in my evolution. It truly means the world to me!
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